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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Hole 

While Mike Piazza was able to return to Shea last night from rehabbing his ailing 35 year old frame in Port St. Lucie (aka "the hole"), I'm still stuck in my own little hole: the in laws' house. My wife and I somehow managed to save enough money to buy a crappy little house in NY and a few days before we were supposed to close on it and move in a title search revealed a lien on the property and several other problems. So, while we wait for the lawyers to sort out this mess I'm stuck in a house with only a dial up connection and a TV that magically gets tuned to the damn Soap Opera Network just as Mets game are supposed to start. Then again, I guess Days of Our Lives is more compelling than Days of Our Embarrassing Mets. Not that I even want to watch this pathetic Mets team right now. Once again the Mets have become the laughing stock of baseball. In one of the largest markets in the country with gigantic financial resources, the Mets are battling the lowly league owned Expos for last place in the division. What's worse, many of the players have given up and have accepted their fate. I guess I have too. For the foreseeable future I'm living with the in laws, have no control over the TV, am dealing with a Commadore 64 computer hooked up to a dial up connection, and I root for the most pathetic team in baseball. Someone put me out of my misery.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm Moving 

No, this site isn't moving, but I'm moving out of the Washington, D.C. area back home to New York. It might be a few days, maybe a week, before my next post. The great Mets blogs on the sidebar have got you covered in the meantime. My wife thinks the motivation behind us moving back home is to be closer to family and for professional reasons. Below, however, are the real reasons:

  1. Pizza: That's right, I'm moving home for pizza. When you're born and raised on New York pizza and then move to a place that consistently ranks Domino's among the city's best pizza, it's only a matter of time before you go through pizza withdrawal complete with violent mood swings, the shakes and drooling. This actually applies to Italian food in general down here. There are a few decent places, mostly of the upscale pricey variety, but for the most part it's like what Ray Liota said in Goodfellas when he went into the witness protection program: "all I get around here is egg noodles and ketchup."
  2. "Ya'll": This isn't a word damn it! Don't people south of the Mason-Dixon line know that the proper plural of the word "you" is "youz." Or, alternatively, "youz guyz."
  3. Breakfast Sandwiches. When I first moved down to D.C. I walked into a bagel shop and asked for two eggs on a poppy seed bagel. The clerk proceeded to pull what looked like a milk carton out of a refrigerator and pour what could only be described as a fluorescent yellow vomit-like fluid into a bagel shaped dish. He then put the dish into the microwave. I was stunned. I said, "hey, I don't know what the hell that just was but I asked for an egg sandwich." Puzzled, the clerk said, "I heard you, that's what I'm making." After about 30 seconds in the microwave I heard "beep." My "eggs" were done. The yellow stuff had solidified in the bowl into a perfectly shaped ring. The clerk turned the dish upside down and the ring o' space eggs plopped onto my "bagel" (see bagels below). I shook my head in disgust and walked out. You don't pour eggs out of a carton nor do you microwave them.
  4. Bagels: Why is it that the only good bagels are found in and around New York? Some say that the water in New York is the reason for the good bagels and pizza too. Whatever the reason, seven years is long enough to be force fed brick frizbees masquerading as bagels.
  5. Nice People: Yes, I know, what kind of lunatic gets tired of nice people. Me, that's who. First of all, a) when strangers try to engage me in conversation I'm immediately freaked out. "What the hell does this nut want" I think to myself. Also, b) it's a little known fact that "nice" equals "slow." And I don't mean "slow" to mean lacking intelligence, I mean slow to mean physically slow. When I go into a coffee shop I don't want to engage in a 10 minute conversation about the weather. I want my damn coffee and I want it now. Don't you see the crust in the corner of my eyes - I need my coffee! I don't give a crap about the weather or your stinking rug rats dance recital! Lastly c), people outside of New York are too sensitive. I can't bust anyone's balls around here without making people cry. Seriously, the more I like you the more I make fun of you. Back home it was almost a pasttime to sit around with friends and make fun of each other for hours on end. This is what I thought "conversation" meant. Here, I'm afraid I'll be sued for intentional infliction of emotional distress if I say the wrong thing.
  6. Last Call: What kind of city has bars with last call at 2:00 a.m. Don't these people know that the Jack Daniel's only starts going down smoothly at around 2:15 a.m.? Then, to make matters worse, the subway, oh, sorry, it's called the "Metro" down here, stops running at 2:00 a.m. So, unless your driving drunk (which of course I don't recommend), last call is really about 1:30 a.m. Some say nothing good happens between 2 and 4 a.m. To that I counter with countless personal, um, "achievements," in my pre-marital days of course, that were only made possible due to the two extra hours of drinking.
  7. Hoodlum Friends: I miss my friends from the old neighborhood. Yes, they are punks and have not grown up much since high school, but where else except for New York do your friends make the local rag's gossip pages for getting into a broo-ha-ha with Mo Vaughn at a Manhatten strip club.
  8. Shea Stadium: Yes, I know, she's a dump, but she's our dump. I'm tired of watching the Mets lose on TV. I need to go home so that I can spend $30 on a ticket, $7 for a beer and $5 for a hot dog to watch my team lose in person.

D.C. has actually been a fun place to live and I have made some great friends here so I'm just kidding with a lot of that list (see 5.c above). But from my experience there are two types of people who grow up in and around New York then move away: they hate it and never want to go back or become home sick and find their way home. I'm in the latter category. See you at Shea!


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Memorial Service for Bob Murphy 

A quick reminder:
Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon and broadcaster Gary Thorne will deliver eulogies at a memorial service for Hall of Fame announcer Bob Murphy at St. Patrick's Cathedral today at 2 p.m. It is open to the public.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tom Glavine "Banged Up" In Car Accident 

ESPN, SI and FoxSports have all posted the same AP story, with limited details:

NEW YORK (AP) - New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine was involved in an automobile accident Tuesday while going from LaGuardia Airport to nearby Shea Stadium in a taxi cab.

The accident occurred at about 2:15 p.m., Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said. Glavine was "banged up" and taken to a hospital, according to Horwitz, who also said the injuries were not life-threatening.

The Mets were off Monday and Glavine spent the day in Atlanta, Horwitz said.
This is obviously awful news. Hopefully Glavine is okay.

Update: Bryan Hoch has an update for MLB.com with a bit more detail:

Glavine called the Mets about 2:15 p.m. ET to say that he'd sustained injuries to his face and mouth when the taxi he was in was involved in an accident on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens.

Well, if Tom could call someone on the phone hopefully that means his injuries aren't too bad.

Update 2: Glavine suffered a lacerated lower lip, received stitches and lost his two front upper teeth in the accident. Now, all Glavine wants for Christmas is his two front teeth, some run support and a defense that doesn't commit so many errors behind him. Glavine will miss his start today and Matt Ginter will take to the mound instead.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Q&A With Will Carroll 

On Friday July 30th (aka “Black Friday”) the Mets made a series of trading deadline deals which resulted in the organization’s top two pitching prospects, Scott Kazmir and Matt Peterson, being shipped out in exchange for two Major League pitchers, Tampa Bay’s Victor Zambrano and Pittsburgh’s Kris Benson. The trades were almost universally slammed, both in the blogosphere and in the mainstream media, with the focus of the criticism directed at the Kazmir for Zambrano trade. Questions soon arose such as; can the Mets new pitching coach Rick Peterson really fix the wild Zambrano “in 10 minutes,” as he was reported to have claimed? Is Kazmir susceptible to future injuries due to his size, the fact that he’s a southpaw or does he have some flaw in his mechanics? Since my lack of knowledge with respect to pitching mechanics is rivaled only by my lack of HTML knowledge (it took me 3 hours to change the font of my blog’s logo), I though I’d enlist the services of someone who actually knows what he’s talking about.

Will Carroll writes for Baseball Prospectus, including his weekly series called Under the Knife, where Will presents some of his groundbreaking work in analyzing baseball injuries. Will also hosts Baseball Prospectus Radio and has recently published his first book, Saving the Pitcher. Thank you Will for taking the time to answer some questions and help us crazy Met fans deal with some of these issues.

Shea Hot Corner: Part of the Mets rationale for trading Scott Kazmir were concerns about his durability because he is relatively small in stature and a lefty. Were these legitimate concerns?

Will Carroll: I don't have any data on durability for right/left, so I'll ignore that part. The concerns weren't that Kazmir wasn't durable because he was small, it was because his mechanics were so problematic. Kazmir was one of the pitchers that Peterson took to ASMI this winter and there were certain adjustments that needed to be made. While I don't know the results of that testing, it's possible that he was putting a strain on his arm that was greater than the normal forces that a UCL or a rotator cuff can withstand. That would be a very legitimate concern.

Shea Hot Corner: Mets fans have heard for a while that Kazmir "throws across his body." Whether that is, in fact, the case or not is another story but what exactly does this mean and why is it a concern?

Will Carroll: If you imagine that there is an invisible line running from home to second base, a pitcher normally wants to keep his force - and therefore the force on the ball - on that line or as close to parallel as possible. (We're ignoring breaking balls here.) A pitcher that has his arm come inside that line, one that appears to come medial (further towards the middle of the body) to the armpit is throwing across his body and placing stress on his shoulder. When you see this, think impingement syndrome.

Shea Hot Corner: Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson was recently reported to have said that he could fix Victor Zambrano "in 10 minutes." He was presumably talking about Zambrano's mechanics and wildness. Is it possible for a pitching coach to correct a flaw in a 29 year old pitcher's mechanics "in 10 minutes" to the point that results on the mound are seen quickly?

Will Carroll: 10 minutes. Sure! It depends on what the flaw is and how strong the habit is, but yes. If I can do it working with kids, there's no reason to doubt that Rick can do it with professionals. Zambrano could be doing something as simple as pulling his head, striding incorrectly, or maybe his eyelids are just stuffed up.

Shea Hot Corner: Rick Peterson also said recently that part of the impetus behind trading both Scott Kazmir and Matt Peterson, both drafted out of high school, was that they were still several years away from being able to make an impact at the Major League level, citing two other high school draftees, Tom Glavine (536 minor league innings) and Al Leiter (692 minor league innings), as evidence. Is there some magic number of innings a pitcher should throw in the minor leagues from a health and/or effectiveness standpoint?

Will Carroll: Not that I've seen evidence or even a study for. One of the chief advantages of a college pitcher is that he's more physically (and hopefully mentally) mature and will advance faster. Beyond David Clyde, I can't really think of any HS pitchers that rush through the minors in the fashion a Mark Mulder or Mark Prior did. It would be an interesting study to see how fast certain types of players make it to the majors.

Shea Hot Corner: The Mets, under the direction of Rick Peterson, have implemented an organizational wide pitching system from the Major League club down through the minor league clubs. Mets fans were excited about this as Peterson's arrival coincided perfectly with a wealth of young, minor league pitching talent in the Mets farm system. However, the recent trades and comments from Mets brass indicate that the Mets are not only willing to trade pitching prospects, but prefer established Major League pitchers over minor league pitching prospects, even top pitching prospects. Why would the Mets go through the time, expense and effort to implement this system to mold and prevent injuries to young pitchers for other teams?

Will Carroll: First, I think the "wealth" was a bit overstated. What I believe the Mets are trying to do is get some certainty, much like the A's did. A pitching prospect (and we know there is no such thing) is valuable if he makes the majors successfully or can be traded for something that helps the major league club. It's nice to win at Double-A, but that doesn't mean wins at the bigs. For a pitcher like Kazmir, there's so much risk of injury or ineffectiveness - he's never been dominant at any level - that there's a significant chance he will never have any value to the big league club. Zambrano may not have the potential, but he's proven himself to be a major league #3. For the right club at the right price, that's something. Trading Kazmir is not necessarily wrong, but I'd want more for him. That Soriano deal sure looks nice about now.

Shea Hot Corner: Lastly, departing from the trade issue for a minute, one of my readers astutely pointed out on draft day that seven of the Mets first fourteen picks in this year's amateur draft were right handed pitchers with so called 3/4 arm-slot deliveries and no wind-up. First, what is a "3/4 arm slot delivery" and is there something more advantageous about one arm slot delivery over another? Similarly, is there something to be said for a pitcher with no wind-up versus a pitcher with one?

Will Carroll: 3/4 arm slot means the arm comes through halfway between overhand and sidearm. From behind, it looks like the clock is at 1:30 or so. Arm slot is extremely overrated according to most biomechanical studies. The windup has no value at all other than deception and rhythm. I personally don't teach it. I don't care how my pitcher gets to the start of the motion as long as he gets there and doesn't balk.

Again, thank you to Will. As always, please leave comments below. And if anyone would like to ask Will a follow-up question, no need to track him down since he’s coming to us. On Friday, August 13th at 5:00 p.m. Baseball Prospectus will be hosting one of their pizza feeds at Shea, lead by Will Carroll:
Come out August 13th as the Mets take on the Diamondbacks. We'll meet at 5pm in the Picnic Area for some baseball talk, then sit together for some baseball. Will Carroll leads the group but there should be plenty of special guests. Tickets are $14 and should be ordered through Josh Orenstein of the Mets Group Sales department (joren@nymets.com).

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Welcome To My Brain 

The Extra Innings Package is not carrying today's Mets-Cardinals game so I paid my $2.95 to get the game on MLB.tv. Since I'm at my computer watching this game, I figured I'd keep notes and subject you all to my thoughts while the game went on. Don't make fun of my poor spelling and typos.

The line-ups:

Mets
J. Reyes 2b
T. Zeile 1b
K. Matsui ss
C. Floyd lf
M. Cameron cf
R. Hidalgo rf
D. Wright 3b
V. Wilson c
A. Leiter p

St. Louis
T. Womack 2b
E. Renteria ss
A. Pujols 1b
S. Rolen 3b
L. Walker rf
R. Sanders lf
S. Taguchi cf
Y. Molina c
J. Marquis p

Top of 1st
Great, we get to deal with Walker today. Huh, Piazza's sitting out again? Reyes singled. I actually don't mind Zeile in the 2 hole - he's a good situational hitter. Go Zeile. I think one of the Cardinals announcers just said that Art Howe was "too smart for his own good." I must have heard that wrong. Mets with runners at the corners for Kaz, who might actually feel comfortable in the 3 hole. Wow, Kaz stung that ball to CF, driving in Jose who tagged easily. It's Pujols cap day in St. Louis. I wish the Mets had Pujols - or his hat. That was a sick catch of Floyd's pop foul by Molina and nice play by the fans to get the hell out of his way (take note Bartman). Cammy down 0/2, what a surprise. If he looks at strike 3 I'm going to scream. He seems to have a huge problem protecting the plate when he's down 2 strikes. Cammy pops out to end the inning - at least he didn't strike out, and that's what it's come to for Mets fans - redefining victory. Good guys 1, bad guys 0.

Bottom of 1st
Step right up folks - the Al Leiter magic show is about to begin. Oh, I just realized Edmonds is sitting out. Cool. This line-up is still scary. Leiter goes to a full count against Womack. The first of many full counts I'm sure. Womack pokes a broken bat single. We should start keeping track of how many bats Leiter breaks per start. That "stat" would be at least useful as productive outs. The Cards announcers are nice enough to point out that the Mets offense is rated last as well as their defense. Thanks, because I didn't want to forget that. Reneteria's hitting .424 vs. lefties! Second batter, second full count. Damn, Renteria swatted a ball over Cammy's head off the wall and Womach scores. Game tied already. By the time you get to Pujols, you have got to have at least one out. Men on, no outs with Pujols, Rolen and Walker up is a bad combo. This could get ugly, quick. Nice job by Leiter to jam Pujols. Renteria out at second b/c he didn't re-tag 3rd base. Oh now, Vance Wilson is down. Pujols knocked him in the dome with his back swing. There should be some repercussions for doing that. Stick Pujols in the penalty box for high sticking or something. Wilson's done. Ooo, he looks pissed going into the dugout. Jason Phillips in behind the dish. Wait, what the hell, they're letting Renteria stay on 2nd? What the hell! Art get out there and give them a piece of your mind you little girl! This is the 2nd time a Card bloodied one of our Mets (Zeile got lit up in the ear earlier in the year). Wait, now Renteria is out. I'm confused (as usual). Rolen hits a double. Thankfully Renteria was out. The fans are giving Walker a big ovation. Isn't that cute - now strike him out Al! And he does! I really enjoyed Al's first trick of the afternoon - not getting out the first two batters in this line-up and only allowing one run in the inning. Leiter needs 23 pitches to get through the inning. Good guys 1, bad guys 1.

Top of the 2nd
C'mon Doggie! Crap, Hidalgo struck out. Some Card players wives in the booth. None of them are hot. David Wright grounds out to Scott Rolen. Damn, I'd be happy if Wright turns out to be half the player Rolen is. Let's go goggs. I wonder if Phillips gave Matsui some advise about his spectacles. Phillips got on base - don't know how as the announcer was too busy talking to the ugly wives. I think Leiter might actually have a nicer looking swing than Craig Counsel. Does Al really think he's fooling anyone with that annoying fake bunt? Al Ks. Good guys 1, bad guys 1.

Bottom of 2nd
I like how everyone in the stands wears red. We should all wear orange at Shea. The entire stadium would look like one big construction zone. Another full count - this time to Reggie Sanders. A six pitch walk to Sanders. Ugh, lead-off walks drive me nuts. Ugh, Leiter pegs Taguchi. Ya know, I can think of a gazzillion other hitters the Mets should be hitting. Needless to say, lil' Taguchi isn't one of them. At least Al only thew a few pitches before hitting him. Holy Matsui Batman! What a DP! What did this guy do with the real Matsui? Who is the real Matsui? Will the real Matsui please stand up, please stand up, please stand up. By far the best play in the field Matsui and Reyes have made together all season. That was awesome. You go witcha bad spectacled self Kaz (snap, snap, snap). Marquis pops out. Crisis averted again. Good guys 1, bad guys 1.

Top of 3rd
Reyes is thrown out trying to bunt. I like that Jose has been trying to bunt more, he just has not had much success the last few games in doing it thanks to some nice defense. I guess Jose picked the wrong defense to try and test. These guys are good. Zeile takes a walk. Matsui bounces a ball to second, Zeile out but Kaz beats out the DP. Oooo, Marquis ties Cliff up on an inside pitch for a called strike 3. Good guys 1, bad guys 1.

Bottom of 3rd
Womack pops out. Renteria challenges Wright with a bunt down the 3b line and Wright can't get the ball out of his glove fast enough. That will come (I hope). Pujols broken bat hard grounder to third, Wright tosses it to Jose at 2nd, lead runner out, Jose overthrows 1st base trying to turn two and Pujols ends up on 2nd. Wright hesitated just long enough in making the throw that Jose had to rush to turn the DP and threw the ball away. Damn it, whatever Kaz has he is spreading it to Jose and Wright. Wright needs to check his glove - someone might be playing a prank on him and put some glue in it. First base open, two outs, Rolen up and the lefty Walker on deck - they walk Rolen. Can't say I disagree. I hate the Mets black caps with blue bills. Either make them all blue or all black. The black and blue theme sucks. Full count on Walker. Let's go Al. That pitch wasn't even close. Walker walks. Bases loaded for Sanders. Great, Al just hit Sanders - with the bases juiced! Pujols comes in to score. Bases still loaded for Taguchi. Teguchi smacks a two run, bases loaded double. Nice, in this stacked line-up we're getting beat by Teguchi! This sucks. We could have been out of this inning an hour and a half ago if Wright/Reyes could have turned that DP. Molina IBB and Marquis pops out. Inning done, finally. Good guys 1, bad guys 4.

Top of 4th
Cammy pops out to shallow center where Met Killer Taguchi gobbles up the pop up. Feat or famine Hidalgo digs in, who is hungry - strikes out looking. Wright singles, but he needs to do more than that to make up for his costly double pumping. Goggs takes a walk. Top of the 5th, two outs, two men on and Al Leiter coming in to bat - do you PH? Howe doesn't and I can't blame him. Anytime we can keep a starter in the game, with this bullpen, I do it. I can't say Leiter has been that bad so far. With even average defense the Mets are still very much in this game. Leiter gone on strikes. Good guys 1, bad guys 4.

Bottom 4th
Leiter comes into the inning having thrown 68 pitches, 31 for strikes. Pretty much par for the course for Al. Let's hope Al doesn't hit another batter and if he does, let's hope it's Pujols or Rolen. Womack pops out. Actually, back to the beaning issue. Let's hope Al doesn't hit anyone. Our infield might actually be the biggest bunch of wimps I've ever seen. I think Rolen and Pujols could probably take Phillips, Leiter, Zeile, Reyes, Matsui and Wright at the same time. Renteria gets his third hit of the day. There's a hotty blonde in the stands right behind home plate. Where are my marti gras beads when I need them. Leiter makes quick work of Pujols who strikes out and of course the Cards announcers, who are making this game more unbearable than it really is, say that it was a bad call. Of course, a Met pitcher could not strike out Pujols w/out some help from the ump. Renteria swipes second base. Phillips didn't have a chance. With first base open now, I'd probably walk Rolen and pitch to Walker or, at the very least, not give him anything to hit. What a surprise, Rolen knocks in Renteria. Good for my fantasy team, bad for my Mets. Walker bloops a double into LF and Rolen comes in to score. Call FEMA, the floodgates have opened. Last inning's barrage you could blame on poor defense. Now, however, Leiter is just getting batted around. Cedeno grounds out to end the inning. You guys hear Cedeno bash the Flushing Faithful as having no class because they/we/you bood him? What a putz. How dare a multi millionaire, who makes those millions thanks to our money, talk shit on us. I hope the Cards cut him now that they have Walker. Roger can't hear me but I'm screaming "booooo, booooo, boooo." There, I feel better. Leiter has thrown 90 pitches so far, only half for strikes. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Top of 5th
C'mon Jose, ignite us. Jose pops out to Cedummy. Zeile hits it to the wrong guy - Rolen. Score it 5 to 3. Matsui flies out to Teguchi. Pretty much the most boring inning of baseball I have ever seen in my life. The Mets have only scored two runs in the last 15 innings. Truly pathetic. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Bottom of 5th
Mike DeJean in. Leiter's line: 998 pitches, 8 for strikes. Matsui's out. McSuck in at second base and Jose moves to SS. Oh great, my wife, the Smokin' Hot Corner, is so happy that McEwing is in, her favorite player. She made me promise not to call him McSuck anymore. Okay, McUseless in at second. Oh great, Met killer Teguchi gets another hit. Molina bunts him over. DeJean, other than his first 6 innings or so, has sucked. DeJean will be a good experiment. Rick Peterson spotted a flaw in him that he could fix right up (sound familiar). Did Peterson not get the memo that this is not the small market A's and the Mets do not need to troll the league looking for low budget and/or undervalued projects? Grissom grounds out to Jose and Teguchi advances to third. Womack strikes out. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Top 6th
Cliff Floyd pulls a single to right. Cammy peppers the left-center field wall. Runners on second and third. Hidalgo grounds to Rolen, who looks Floyd back and guns down Doggie. Runners do not advance. Wright gets into an 0/2 hole takes a couple of balls then goes down swinging. Phillips grounds out. Inning over. Wow, that just exemplified the Mets season. Two men in scoring position, no outs, and they can't even walk away with a single run in the inning. This is just crazy. I really hope Duquette realizes this broken offense needs more than one middle of the order bat. We need a mashing corner outfielder AND a bad ass slugging first basemen this offseason. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Bottom 6th
DeJean back in. I don't have a good feeling about this. Tampa Bay won today. With less than a $30 million payroll, TB has a better record than the Mets (I think). This is just embarrassing. I want to buy the Mets. Despite being about a hundred grand in student load debt, my credit card company keep increasing my limit. I think I may have enough credit to throw down the plastic and buy the Mets. First order of business for my Mets: tar and feather Jim Duquette, Rick Peterson and Art Howe. Renteria gets his fourth hit today. Pujols bouncer to Wright, who slightly double clutches again, gets the force out at second but McUseless can't turn two. Rolen gets a single and now there's men on first and second with one out. Larry Walker digs in. DeJean strikes out Walker on three pitches. DeJean should hit Cedeno in the mellon. I'm feeling very violent today? Looks like Roger is hanging off the Big Macs lately? DeJean strikes out Roger. That's two solid scoreless innings for DeJean. Too bad our bullpen can't keep an opposing offense at bay in a game that matters. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Top of the 7th
Danny Harren in for Marquis, who just hand cuffed the Mets. Gerald Williams pinch hitting for the pitcher. Jeez, I really hate that this guy is on the team. Are the Mets so cheap that we have to look at Williams instead of one the kids from AAA because they don't want to start their arbitration clock ticking? Williams flies out. Jose grounds out. Zeile flies out to left and the Mets go down in order yet again. Truly pathetic. This game can't end soon enough. Why am I watching this? Why have I watched any games this season? Let's see, there have been, including this game, 110 games. Let's say the average game is 2 and 1/2 hours, that's 275 hours. I probably watched all but maybe 5 games, so that's about 262.5 hours of Mets games I have sat through. I want that time back! In fact, let's all get together and bring a class action lawsuit against the Mets to be reimbursed for our collective time wasted watching this team. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Bottom 7th
Pedro Feleciano in. Yay, we got Teguchi out! Molina grounds out to McSuck (sorry honey), I mean McUseless. John Mabry walks after an at bat that took an eternity. Womack flies out to Floyd. Thankfully the inning is over. Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Top of the 8th
McUseless pops out weakly to Womack who drifts over to the third base area. Clifford pops out to shallow left, where Renteria drifts out to snag it. Cammy strikes out. Mets down in order . . . again. It's amazing. The team is down by five runs and need baserunners in the worst way and Floyd and Cammy, with the bases vacant, are swinging for the fences with every cut. Note to Mets - there's no such thing as a five run home run with the bases empty! Good (albeit clueless) guys 1, bad guys 6.

Bottom of 8th
Looper in for a little trash duty. Valent inserted into left so Cliff can go ice his knees and maybe his head. Renteria just picked up his fifth hit of the game. New Mets motto: New York Mets - We're Here to Pad Your Stats. Great, Pujols is up. Albert, be gentle . . . please. I think Pujols just hit into that DP on purpose. He wants this game to end as badly as I do. Is it wrong that I want Rolen to hit a home run for my fantasy team? Oh my God the Cardinal announcers are making me physically ill. Yeah yeah yeah we know, the Cards are good. Give us a break. I wonder if the Mets announcers are such homies? Rolen flied out to right. Damn it. Oh, I mean good! Good guys 1, bad guys 6.

Top of the 9th
One last chance to keep us from getting swept. Let's see what the Mets can do. Hidalgo goes down looking. Wright pops out. Wright showed his hero, Scott Rolen, nothing this series. Didn't swing the stick particularly well nor did he play good defense. The Cards announcers are already implying that they will be in the World Series and that the best overall record should determine home field advantage. Shoot me now. Phillips gets a hit. Eric Valent singles to right, moving Phillips to third. These are the first two hits off Harren. Here we go - Reyes takes a walk. I think this might be Reyes' first walk . . . um, ever. Ugh, the Cards are making a pitching change - Julian Taverez is in. C'mon, let's get this over with I gotta be somewhere in an hour! Let's go Todd - be a hero. Now the announcers are saying that the strike zone has shrunk in this last inning, which accounts for the Mets mini-rally. I've gone from being annoyed with these guys to now full on hating them. Jeez, Tavarez has like 9 different deliveries. Wow, Taverez walks Zeile to bring in a run and Cliff Floyd represents the tying run! Oh shit, wait fucking Howe double switched Floyd with . . . Joe McEwing! Wait, why not use Piazza as a pinch hitter!?!?! Ugh, McEwing grounds into the force out at second. Game over. The Smokin' Hot Corner is yelling at me to get ready to go out. Hopefully after a few drinks I'll forget about this game. Good guys 2, bad guys 6, Norm pissed off.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Juuuust a Bit Outside 

David Wright had three hits including a pair of two baggers and a home run and drove in 6 RBI, only two short of a single game Met record, en route to an 11 to 6 win over the Brew Crew yesterday afternoon. Other than being a coming out party of sorts for Wright, the game was significant in that it capped off a three game sweep of the Brewers and also gave Mets fans a first look at Rick Peterson's new toy Victor Zambrano, acquired in the much maligned trade that sent hot shot pitching prospect Scott Kazmir to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Mets got the ball rolling in the first inning off of Victor Santos when Jose Reyes singled up the middle then stole his 14th base of his short season to wind up on second base. Eric Valent worked a walk and the slumping Mike Piazza got aboard when he was hit in the forearm by a Santos pitch to load the bases. The Mets have struggled mightily this season with the bags full hitting only .206, but with no outs and a remote chance that the season could still be salvaged the Mets could not afford to allow this problem to go on. Richard Hidalgo dug in and popped up to second base. Mets fans everywhere held their breath since a double play could end the inning without a single run crossing the plate. Mike Cameron, who seems like he's been hitting behind in the count all season long, worked the count to find himself ahead 3 and 1. Cameron turned on the fifth pitch of the at bat, pulling it to deep left-center field bringing Reyes and Valent in to score and bringing Wright up to bat. Wright quickly found himself in an 0 and 2 hole, took a ball, fouled two pitches off then launched a hanging 1 and 2 breaking ball deep into the Miller Park stands. Vance Wilson followed up Wright's jack with a homer of his own to go back-to-back and when the inning was over the Mets had gift wrapped a six run lead for Zambrano.

Zambrano took the mound with a huge, early lead and a mountain of pressure. The Mets had mortgaged the future to get him to help them "win now" and despite a career 4.47 ERA the Mets are expecting him to become a top of the rotation starter. Adding to the pressure, Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson said that he spotted a flaw in Zambrano's mechanics and that he could fix him "in 10 minutes." Peterson's statement bucks the conventional wisdom, as highlighted in Will Carroll's great new book Saving the Pitcher, that

Changing mechanics, especially those that have been ingrained into muscles over years of competition, is difficult and requires an intense commitment. Doing so inside of a season or even a pre-season does not likely provide enough time to do so properly.
Nevertheless, perhaps Peterson intends to spend an extra, super-sized, mucho intense ten minutes with Zambrano. Those ten minutes better have been pretty intense because Zambrano needs a a lot of fixing. Many say he's got great "stuff" but at 29 years old he's yet to harness it, as he leads the league in pitches thrown per inning, walks (yes, the Mets actually found someone who is less efficient than Al Leiter) and sports a hefty 4.43 ERA. But never fear, because Professor Rick has had roughly 7,200 minutes to work with Zambrano since Black Friday. Since Peterson only needed 10 minutes to mold the wild Zambrano into a top of the rotation starter, God only knows what Peterson could do to Zambrano with the extra 7,190 minutes! Going into the game I was thinking no hitter. Well, not so much.

In the first inning alone Zambrano threw close to 30 pitches, walked two, and allowed the Brewers to cut the Mets six run lead in half. Maybe Peterson needed 7,201 minutes? Luckily for Zambrano, the Mets tacked on four more runs in the fourth thanks to a two run single by Hidalgo and a bases clearing, three run double by Wright. Wright doubled again in the sixth for his third hit of the game and Wilson singled him home, extending the Mets lead 11 to 3. Zambrano took the mound in the sixth inning where he witnessed the Mets Bad News Bear-like infield defense (by the way, I don't care what defensive efficieny ratio says - the Mets infield defense is bad - real bad). Craig Counsel, proud owner of the ugliest swing in baseball, took first base on a catcher's interference call and then Joe McEwing, who had an awful day in the field, botched the force out at second thrown to him by Wright. With two on and no outs, Zambrano struck out Scott Podsednik but allowed a single to Bill Hall to load the bases. With the bases loaded and one out, Art Howe summoned Pedro Feliciano who gave up a three run double to Geoff Jenkins cutting the Mets lead to 11 to 6, which held as the final score.

When the dust settled, Zambrano had given up 8 hits, 6 runs, 4 earned runs, walked 3 and struck out 7. The frustrating numbers is that it took him 110 pitches to get through only 5 and 1/3 innings and of those 110 pitches only 62 were strikes. While he got the win, Zambrano was helped by a Brewers line-up that would not lay off his pitches out of the strike zone and he was also helped by quite a bit of run support. It was frustrating that even with a huge lead, Zambrano could still not bring himself to throw strikes consistently. He got away with it yesterday, but his pussyfooting around the strike zone will not work in a close game and/or against a team with a scintilla of patience. Zambrano's fastball was unimpressive, topping out at only 89-91 mph and while he has a nasty slider, he has no idea how to use it. In sum, Zambrano showed virtually no changes from his days with the Devil Rays. He's got good stuff but does not know how to use it. Rick Peterson is a good pitching coach and I have faith he will help him but let's be real; Zambrano is a project. He will not be fixed in 10 minutes, 10 hours, or 10 days. More likely, he will need at least 10 starts.

This and That

Black Friday repercussions: Okay, so I'm going to try and move on but it's harder than I thought. I took a few days off to calm down and read the various takes on the trades hoping to gain an appreciation for why the Mets did this. Every day another Met "justification" comes out that just gets me more angry. Between the absurd things said by Jim Duquette and Rick Peterson in their interviews on WFAN to the various quotes in newspapers, I'm not even close to saying my peace on this. However, I'm going to try and move on but cut me some slack if I appear a bit more pessimistic for few more days/weeks/years.

Check this out for a look at a few pitchers with odd deliveries. Just think, if any of these pitchers came up in the Met organization they would be dealt in a heartbeat since they do not conform to The Peterson Way (TM). Oh, sorry, see the last sentence of the point above.

Check out The Hardball Times where Aaron Gleeman and Craig Burley compare and debate Hank Blalock and David Wright as the best third basemen under 24 years old.

A few weeks ago I hinted that the Mets should pick up Generation K alum Bill Pulsipher to help them out with their lefty bullpen woes. Well, the Mets may not read my blog but the Mariners do. The M's bought out Pulsipher's contract from the Long Island Ducks and assigned him to to AAA Tacoma. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Bob Murphy Passes Away 

Bob Murphy, one of the original Met broadcasters, died yesterday in Florida of lung cancer. To many of us, Murphy was as much apart of the Mets as Shea Stadium, Mr. Met and the home run apple. He will indeed be missed. Mets.com has a great page set up with, among other things, audio clips of Murphy's classic calls. Go check them out and relive some great moments in Mets history with "Murph."


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Letter from Scott Kazmir to Mets Fans 

Not only does Scott Kazmir continue to prove the critics of his on field abilities wrong with his dominating pitching performances, but he also proves the critics of his character wrong with this classy letter to Mets fans posted on NYFS. I wish every pitcher in the Met organization had his talent and I wish everyone in the Met front office had his character flaws.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Rick Peterson - The Driving Force Behind the Trades 

Two Journal News articles reveal that Mets pitching coach/guru Rick Peterson had his fingerprints all over Black Friday and was particularly forceful in wanting to deal Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. The first article rivals that of MSG's Bill Daughtry as perhaps the most ignorant commentary on this trade to date (thanks Matt for pointing that out). This article states,

Peterson is the key to this deal, the man who will get Duquette celebrated or fired. He watched hours of tape on Benson and Zambrano and is convinced he can fix their mechanical issues.
Identifying pitchers who are undervalued is one thing, but trading away your top pitching prospect - perhaps the top left handed pitching prospect in the minors - for an undervalued, underachieving, flawed player is something else. In the second Journal News article, Peter Abraham states that,

Peterson put his reputation on the line by strongly advising the Mets to acquire the inconsistent Zambrano from Tampa Bay for Class AA left-hander Scott Kazmir. But to him, the risk was negligible.
Peterson thinks the risk was negligible because,

Of the prospects lost, only Kazmir is significant, and Rick Peterson is convinced his across-the-body delivery will lead to elbow problems.
First of all, it's laughable to say that the only significant prospect lost was Kazmir. Second of all, if Rick Peterson is such a great pitching coach and if he spotted a flaw in Kazmir's delivery, isn't it up to him to correct the flaw? This is not a mid 30s veteran pitcher set in his ways after all, this is a 20 year old kid. But hey, I guess it's easier to deal the kid, trash his reputation, and have all the rags tow the company line in helping you do it. It's also funny to point out that while many of us fans listened in horror as we heard the news of Black Friday, Rick Peterson, "stood up and clapped when [he] heard the news that we got him [Zambrano]."

But us fans needn't worry, because, according to The Journal News,

It's a gamble but a good one. It all starts with pitching, and the Mets now have the kind of rotation that wins championships.
Riiiiight, sure we do, it really looked like it last night. As for Scott Kazmir, how is he handling the situation of being told by Mets brass that he is untouchable then being traded and having his durability, talent, character, and work ethic called into question? Revenge was on the kid's mind:

That's my goal now. . . They'll be sorry they did this.

Some of us are already sorry.

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